Organisms respond to their environment in a variety of ways. Over generations, populations may undergo adaptive evolutionary change as a result of natural selection.
Within a generation, individuals may adapt to their environment by initiating developmental changes. The ability to respond developmentally is known as phenotypic plasticity. Our lab is interested in a developmental switch in tail morphology seen in numerous tadpole larvae of the gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor. These tadpoles are capable of switching from a grayish shallow-tailed fin to a red deep-tailed fin in response to byproducts released by dragonfly larvae feeding on other tadpoles. Red deep-tailed tadpoles tend to be less susceptible to predation than their gray shallow-tailed brethren.
The inducing cues and the genes regulating the developmental tail switch has not been identified. Identifying genes that regulate this developmental shift from shallow to deep tails is the first step toward understanding the mechanism by which environmental cues are translated into developmental changes.
Our lab has attempted to isolate genes that may regulate the developmental switch from shallow
to deep tail fins in tadpoles of the gray tree frog, H. versicolor. We created a subtraction library
produced from induced and non-induced tadpoles 8 days following their exposure to feeding
dragonfly larvae. DNA sequence analysis was carried out on a set of these clones and revealed
that all clones had an identical DNA sequence and this sequence matched rDNA. Our results
indicate that we were unsuccessful in cloning genes responsible for the altered tail morphology.
BreAnna Ruter, ’06 Centerburg, OH
Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Psychology
Haley Kaperick, ’07 Puyallup, WA
Majors: Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sponsor: Craig Tepper